Wealth is created from creating value.
Organisations are respected when they create value for all their stakeholders at the same time. Customers must be seeing the value offered by the product or the service delivered by the company; employees must find it attractive, rewarding and fulfilling to work in the organisation. Similarly, suppliers must see the value of working with the company in terms of business ethics, stability and financial rewards. Business partners must find the company helping them achieve their goals as they work alongside the company in fulfilling the company’s objectives and thus, creating value mutually. Government and society at large need to experience the contribution of the company to the overall good. This is easier said than done for some of the drivers to deliver the value could be at cross purposes.
Managing opposing forces and conflicting priorities, working on multiple priorities crying for attention at the same time could distract leaders. It is not easy and hence, only a handful of organisations can show resilience and stay relevant for decades. There must be a few things they are doing right.
Organisations flourish and the shareholders’ wealth grows when there are customers who like the company’s products and services. Leaders have to ensure that they are investing time in the market and listening to the developments around them. Customer behaviours and expectations are never static; moreover, the competitors are not sitting ducks. We witness changes all around us; we have to recognise this reality and our teams have to accept the dynamic nature of the market realities. We have to be ready to make changes continuously.
JP Morgan, DuPont, Colgate, Citigroup, Coca-Cola, JC Penney, UPS, Boeing, Harley-Davidson, Kraft, Kellogg’s and many more have been there for many decades. They have transformed their businesses, introduced new products and services, diversified into new geographies and customer segments and adopted new practices to stay relevant. All of them have been able to deliver lasting value because they have kept their customers at the centre of their business. They have continuously tracked what their customers would be excited about and delivered that without hurting the interest of the other stakeholders in the business.
Innovation at the core
It is not enough to tune into the world of the customer. The organisation has to figure out ways of making meaning of those trends and putting those into action. Leaders must lead the efforts first-hand to act on the market feedback. They have to comprehend these, analyse and dedicate efforts to put these findings into action. Sometimes the business processes may have to be improved; the products and services may have to be revamped; sometimes, they have to develop an altogether new product or service to make the most of the opportunity at hand.
Value can be created and leveraged only when this is a continuous process and at the core. Leaders have to recognise and reward all efforts of innovation consistently all round year and make it a part of their culture. Everyone in the organisation has to understand that they must innovate because it helps them create value for their stakeholders and stay relevant for the long term. They must experience rewards and recognition for every attempt at innovation.
Financial backing is needed
Organisations and leaders understand the value of customer centricity and instilling innovation as a culture. However, in practice, the spirit does not come to life when appropriate financial backing is not provided for the ideas. There are instances when companies generate ideas for the well-being of their employees, solve social issues, retention of business partners and more. However, these ideas fail to take off the ground because there are no sponsors of these ideas.
It is important that the senior leaders unanimously support all the attempts and explorations of creating value for the stakeholders.